Advising with empathy and experience

£2.5bn cost of basic NHS errors.

Basic mistakes in English hospitals cost the NHS  £2.5bn a year, the Government says.

The NHS could afford to employ more nurses if the errors were eliminated, health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said. He added that the costs, which he described as  "expensive and wasteful" when hospital trusts are trying to save money, occur through medication errors, avoidable infections after surgery, and litigation.

He said: "I want every director of every hospital trust to understand the impact this harm is having on their patients and on their finances. I also want every nurse to understand that, if we work together to make the NHS the safest healthcare organisation in the world, we could potentially release resources for additional nurses and training.

"More resources should be invested in improving patient care rather than wasted on picking up the pieces when things go wrong." His comments follow a new Department of Health (DoH) commissioned report which detailed "preventable adverse events", rather than mistakes, which it said could cost the NHS as much as £2.5bn a year.

The report said that the NHS spent £1.3bn on payouts after being sued by patients over care errors. Four areas of poor patient safety highlighted by the DoH include falls and trips, bed ulcers, urinary infections caused by poorly fitted catheters, and deep vein thrombosis.

A poster campaign has been launched warning staff about the financial problems basic errors cause but chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, Dr Peter Carter, said the government needed to invest in more staff before patient care can be improved.

Speaking of the announcement, Kim Daniells of CNCI said "the financial cost of NHS errors is clearly very significant. The human cost of those errors is incalculable. We see the impact of these failings on patients and their families. Any initiative that tackles these issues must be welcomed".